In our previous blog, we articulated that the best path forward for healthcare won’t come from Washington, insurance companies, employers, healthcare systems, or even from well-intended physicians. At least, not by themselves. We said that the best path forward – the “fix” – can and must be charted by you, the healthcare consumer. Here are 5 mission-critical steps you can take to start you on a path towards better healthcare and better health.
- Realize that you are in charge of your own health and healthcare decisions. In other words, think like a consumer. When you shop for a house, a car, a college for your children, a TV, a laptop, a new washer and dryer combo, or even order from a restaurant menu – you flex your consumer muscles. With your goals, research, options, pros and cons and comparisons in mind, YOU decide. Why should it be any different for health and healthcare decisions? It shouldn’t. You do have options including physician partnerships, insurance coverage plans, personalized health goals, preventive strategies, and treatment plans to name a few. Develop a consumer mindset. You’re in charge.
- Know and own your personal health data. Nobody knows more about you than you. It can, however, be a bit of a challenge to keep all of your health data and health history top of mind all of the time. Total recall is a pipedream for most of us, but that data and that history is important for decision making. (Not to mention the health history and health data of those you love and care for, and for whose health decisions you may be partly responsible.) As a healthcare consumer, you simply must demand that your primary care physician, specialists, and healthcare system give you constant and continuing visibility and access to your healthcare data. After all, you paid for it. You own it.
- Find a physician that will know you, be accessible to you and will proactively partner with you around your health and health goals. Certainly you want an expert physician who can assist you with any medical issues that may arise. More than that, seek out a physician who will proactively help you avoid medical issues and help you reduce the need for healthcare – whose purpose is to help you stay healthy rather than merely treating and medicating you. Find a physician who will help you coordinate care involving specialists and whose pricing model makes sense for you. Establish a partnership with a physician who will spend time with you and be accessible to you when you need him or her. Your best bet: find a Direct Primary Care or Concierge physician.
- Embrace monitoring, testing, and improving your health. If you spend even a little time perusing the articles in the Insight Into Healthcare section of Healthscient.com, you will quickly realize that the rapid pace of healthcare technology advancement is empowering healthcare consumers like never before. The healthcare consumer marketplace is filling with ever-evolving and continually improving devices, wearables and sensors. Diagnostic testing is becoming more and more accessible and affordable. Don’t be afraid to leverage these diagnostics for genetics, biochemistry, infectious agents and biomarkers as they become more affordable to you. The old adage still stands: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The way to improve your biology is to know it. Knowledge is power.
- Restructure your health insurance and major medical risk. Health insurance can feel like a quagmire of complexity. And for good reason. It’s also expensive. Burdensomely expensive. In fact, the rising costs of healthcare (including the often high-deductible health insurance plans) are simply unsustainable. It need not be so. Remember, healthcare and health insurance are not the same thing. By embracing the first four of these 5 mission-critical steps to better healthcare and better health, the need to carry so much health insurance diminishes. Or, at least, the need to access your health insurance plan coverage diminishes. In its simplest terms, better health means fewer doctor visits. Fewer doctor visits (usually) mean lower expenses. (That’s why it is mission critical to find a physician who will proactively partner with you around your health and health goals!) It is entirely possible, depending on your current health and chronic conditions, that all you really need is a hospitalization and catastrophic health insurance plan or a medical cost sharing plan. The point is, treat your health insurance strategy like the healthcare consumer you are.
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